How to retain and care for your employees during the corona virus crisis

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How to retain and care for your employees during the coronavirus crisis
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Tens of millions of Americans are suddenly forced to work from home across the U.S as a precautionary measure for coronavirus. Even though it is necessary to do so in order to reduce the spread of the virus-related infection, it has raised a lot of substantial challenges for the employees.
Company leaders and HR departments suddenly have a lot of new territories to handle during the pandemic. Along with trying to diversify revenue streams or digitalize their business model, CEOs and company management are also struggling with coordinating with their employees. Companies are having a difficult time trying to balance the privacy of employees, ensuring communication-related transparency, and providing morale boost for employees, who are particularly struggling with navigating through this unprecedented crisis.
I have put together some tips that you definitely consider in such a situation that companies’ leaders are likely to come across during these trying times. I have also incorporated some of these practices into my company and saw a boost in my team’s productivity, and I hope they help you get in control of the situation as well.

Provide more flexibility to employees

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, only around 5 percent of the U.S workforce worked from their homes regularly. However, today with most states on the lockdown, a vast majority of professionals across industries have turned to work from home.
Amidst the coronavirus crisis and uncertainty, employers can no longer assume that everyone is on the same page. They need to initiate collaborative efforts across departments and take necessary actions to ensure healthy business operations. Here are a few ways companies can offer more flexibility for employees while running things as smoothly as possible during this pandemic:
• As schools and childcare establishments are closed, employees with younger children are facing the challenge of keeping their kids occupied without making their work suffer. This is why flexibility from employers is crucial, and it should match to different needs of each employee.
• Employers can delegate a workplace coordinator who will be the point of contact for employees facing personal or professional issues due to COVID-19. All team leaders should be informed about who this person is so that they can direct their team members or coordinate with them regarding any problem.
• Practice more flexible support policies and sick leaves. This is not the time to enforce rigid company policies and make employees risk exposing themselves or others to the virus because they are scared of losing their jobs.
• Come up with a contingency plan in case the lockdown is extended or for other possible consequences of the pandemic.

Consider the financial and employment needs of your employees

Most of the businesses across the world are facing several challenges due to coronavirus.
Unavailability of resources, country-wide lockdowns, closing down of the global market, supply chain limitations, and restrictions on getting out of homes for non-essentials are just a few consequences of the pandemic crisis that has led to companies facing multiple financial challenges.
However, here are few tips for companies to keep in mind to ensure that are able to retain as well as care for your employees.
• These times of financial crisis and uncertainty are challenging for everyone. More people appreciate transparent and direct communication coming from the company leader than you would think. Hence, make sure you openly speak about the financial stability of the company and existing and possible problems the company will be facing to allow your employees to prepare for reality.
• Depending on the situation of your company, in case you turn to options like short-term leave or leave without pay, make sure you first reach an agreement with the staff. A lot of companies have no other choice but to take severe actions like reduction of wages and salaries or asking some employees to resign. Whatever you do, make sure it’s permitted by law and provide enough time to your employees to better prepare for their future.
• In case you are unable to keep some of your employees, try to help out by connecting them to your contacts in other industries and companies who are looking to hire.

How to handle COVID-19 positive results

Whether you are thinking of extending the work from home for another couple of weeks or preparing for the return of essential staff, you need to have a plan. You have to adopt an approach that balances the right of employees to know if they have been exposed to danger and the privacy of staff who were tested positive.
• Make sure no employee’s private medical information is shared without taking their prior consent.
• The head of the company should directly share information regarding updates, the impact of the virus, or any change of policies.
• While having any communication with the team, you should be considerate and show compassion, along with stating real facts and data that help the employees make informed decisions.
• The information about any staff member getting a positive test result should be immediately communicated to the entire workforce. Make sure also to include preventative measures to ensure the safety of your employees.
• Try to keep company-wide communications frequent during the times of positive test results. It will help your employees stay calm and build more trust in the organization.

Encourage virtual social time for morale-building

Employees, who are working from their homes for the first time, will feel social isolation more deeply than others. No matter how hard one tries, replicating daily interactions with team members and causal encounters while getting some coffee is not possible. Besides, according to research, having regular, supportive interactions with colleagues is associated with employees’ well-being.
This is a critical time, and companies should focus on morale-building efforts as they can also positively affect a business’s productivity and profitability.
• Follow a consistent schedule for company-wide or team virtual meetings where you can ensure everyone is on the same page and share updates and plans.
• Team leaders can have one-on-one meetings with their team members and allow them to share their concerns in private individually.
• Incorporate higher levels of compassion and create space for listening to everyone working within your company. It will boost a sense of workplace community across the departments.
• Ensure people don’t feel excluded, hence communicate every small to large effort across the company. It is will also help you make sure resources are mentally ready to give their best and support the organization. It also includes closely working with the designated COVID-19 coordinator as they better understand employees’ issues during the pandemic.

Take precautionary measures for COVID-19

As some states and countries around the world are now shifting to semi-lockdown, some companies are opening offices for just essential staff or for a shorter period. However, people are still in fear and a high level of stress due to coronavirus. Here are some key highlights companies need to keep in mind to mitigate this:
CDC website is consistently updating its guidelines and helping with preventive measures. Make sure you communicate them to employees and show commitment to abide by all recommendations put forth by CDC, including social distancing.
• In case you have essential employees coming to the office, make sure you actively encourage your staff to notify their team leads if they have any symptoms of the virus, like cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
• Focus on following strict safety policies, including a cleaning protocol to reduce the spread of infection with high-touch areas like laptops, doorknobs, and so on.
• Make sure you educate your staff with updates on coronavirus, how they can be spreading the infection, and best practices to prevent it.

The next step

From diversifying to new sources of revenue generation and digitalizing the business structure to reach customers online to training and empowering employees to maintain their productivity through these tough times, companies need to come up with a contingency plan. These are challenging times for everyone. But now is the time to leverage your organizational struggles and raise above by enforcing technological solutions, thinking of alternatives, and communicating with your audience through social media, webinars, or podcasts. It’s time to support your employees and build a resilient workforce that’s ready to take on a challenge.

Asim Rais Siddiqui
An innovative business technologist and strategist with over a decade's worth of experience in building scalable platforms and disruptive businesses.

1 COMMENT

  1. from my point of view, employers must provide custom face masks to their employees because these are a huge help, especially we have this pandemic going on. Well, I also agree with you that they must practice more flexible support policies and sick leaves. You’re right as well that the financial stability of the company must be discussed with their employees.

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